Wilson: Plame Not Clandestine When Novak Wrote Story

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson acknowledges in a CNN interview that, “My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.”

Rove Learned CIA Agent’s Name From Novak (Newsday)

Chief presidential adviser Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he talked with two journalists before they divulged the identity of an undercover CIA officer but that he originally learned about the operative from the news media and not government sources, according to a person briefed on the testimony. The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, told The Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.

Rove testified that Novak originally called him the Tuesday before Plame’s identity was revealed in July 2003 to discuss another story. The conversation eventually turned to Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who was strongly criticizing the Bush administration’s use of faulty intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, the person said.

[…]

In an interview on CNN earlier Thursday before the latest revelation, Wilson kept up his criticism of the White House, saying Rove’s conduct was an “outrageous abuse of power … certainly worthy of frog-marching out of the White House.” But at the same time, Wilson acknowledged his wife was no longer in an undercover job at the time Novak’s column first identified her. “My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity,” he said.

Despite the initial outrage over the outing of a covert operative for crass political purposes–which I joined in–the facts began to disprove that. Not only was Valerie Plame not an undercover operative but her identity was public knowledge well before the Novak story.

It has been clear from very, very early in this case that the intent of whoever divulged the Wilson-Plame connection was not to punish Wilson by outing his wife but rather to diminish Wilson’s credibility as an honest broker.

FILED UNDER: General,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Douglas Boline says:

    I keep thinking that this is really stupid. Wilson outed his wife the moment he wrote his idiotic OP/ED




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  2. ALS says:

    From Wilson’s biographies, both on the internet, posted prior to this whole charade:

    “He is married to the former Valerie Plame and has two sons and two daughters. ”

    http://www.cpsag.com/our_team/wilson.html

    http://web.archive.org/web/20030720060539/http://www.mideasti.org/html/bio-wilson.html

    I still don’t understand how someone can “out” someone whose identity was never really a secret.

    Now people are just making stuff up to make the President look bad.

    But hey, whatever.

    Rove is going to have to resign. Facts be damned, they are not going to let this go.




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  3. Anderson says:

    This Plame thing is challenging some people’s reading skills.

    Obviously, she *ceased* being clandestine when her cover was blown. How hard is that to parse?

    Wilson, out of character, is actually speaking with some caution—he’s not saying anything direct about when she *was* clandestine.




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  4. Anderson says:

    Douglas, would you please explain how the op-ed “outed” Plame? Was there an acknowledgements section to “my wife, the spy” that didn’t run in the online edition?




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  5. DC Loser says:

    As former CIA DO officer Larry Johnson explains, Valerie Plame was a NOC, a non-official cover officer in the DO. She was operating under the cover of working for a legitimate business or front company, but really in the CIA’s employ. It’s a dangerous job where if you are caught you are likely to be executed. There are NOCs who are working in CIA headquarters, as they rotate in and out of the building between their cover assignments. She might not have been technically a clandestine officer at that moment, but she still had a cover to maintain to protect herself, her cover, and the sources and contacts she developed over the years, some of whom might still be actively working for the CIA. The disclosure of her affiliation with the CIA blows all that out of the water and jeopardizes anyone who ever had contact with her, and draws the attention of hostile intelligence services on them. When you do this, you are playing with people’s lives.




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  6. Phil Davis says:

    “I still don’t understand how someone can “out” someone whose identity was never really a secret.”

    Well, ALS, the issue is not outing her as his wife (that is a matter of public record), but outing her as a CIA operative.

    “Facts be damned…”

    Indeed. Republican hacks are all over TV claiming that Wilson said the VP sent him to Africa. He says no such thing. But, hey, facts be damned, right?

    I don’t know whether Rove broke the law or not, and I think the left is probably overplaying their hand here, but neither is the right a shining example of integrity.

    Truth no longer matters. Power is all that matters.




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  7. Herb says:

    If Rove resigns, he is a fool. Why should he resign over another Democrat Extremists lies.

    Just another case of the Left wing democrats lying,

    But what else is new.




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  8. Anderson says:

    Here’s my question on Larry Johnson, as pointed out by a fellow at ObWi:

    If he left the CIA in 1989, how’s he any sort of authority on whether Plame was covert in 2003?




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  9. DC Loser says:

    Larry Johnson was a classmate with Plame when they started training to be Clandestine officers. I believe he went the official cover route while she went the NOC route. But this type of question is really silly as it’s a strawman more than anything else. It’s the proverbial “when did you stop beating your wife” type of question. Let’s look at it this way, why did the CIA get all bent out of shape and referred this case to the DoJ when the story broke? If she wasn’t clan then what’s the big deal?




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  10. McGehee says:

    Let’s look at it this way, why did the CIA get all bent out of shape and referred this case to the DoJ when the story broke?

    Well, clearly the CIA believed a crime was committed — but “we believe a crime was committed” != “a crime was committed.”




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  11. McGehee says:

    Another thought: has anyone considered the possibility that the way Wilson was chosen for and sent on this Niger thing, without authorization from the top of the Agency food chain, might have been a crime?

    Did the CIA’s request that the Plame-Wilson affair be investigated, specify that the outing of Plame was what they’re concerned about?




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  12. DC Loser says:

    You guys are getting more and more ridiculous by your navel gazing speculations.




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  13. Anderson says:

    But this type of question is really silly as it’s a strawman more than anything else.

    Chill, DC. I happen to believe Plame *was* covert. I’m just questioning Larry Johnson’s qualifications to know that.

    Remember, we’re the “reality-based” side?




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  14. DC Loser says:

    Larry Johnson probably still has some kind of contact through the Agency alumni network with her and knows the score. Just because he doesn’t work for them anymore doesn’t mean he doesn’t “hear” things from mutual friends.




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  15. McGehee says:

    You guys are getting more and more ridiculous by your navel gazing speculations.

    In other words, you don’t know the answer to my question?




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  16. DC Loser says:

    26?




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  17. Lt bell says:

    you lieing piece of crap!

    this is treason
    and if you support it -that makes you a traitor-
    just like Novack -just like Rove ,and just like Bush who knew all about it




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  18. ZZ says:

    You dumbasses haven’t figured it out yet that Plame was no longer covert and no longer a NOC. She hasn’t served overseas in any extended capacity and she works at Langley. You don’t work at Langley if you ever plan on serviing undercover again. Intelligence agencies from other countries are watching Langley to gather information on CIA employees. And you don’t tell your friends and neighbors that you work for the CIA. And you certainly don’t let people like Andrea Mitchell know that you work for the CIA. Too many people knew she works for the CIA for her ever to be an effective CIA undercover agent.




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